September 2, 2014

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Around Utah September

September 2, 2014


Solar Project Launched at Utah Olympic Oval

By Rachel Madison

Kearns – A new, large-scale solar array project is underway at the UTAH OLYMPIC OVAL, where more than 3,000 solar modules will be installed to generate more than 1 million kilowatt hours annually.

Colin Hilton, president and CEO of the Utah OLYMPIC LEGACY FOUNDATION, announced the project as the first of many collaborative conservation projects between the foundation and many community partners.


“We initially looked at how we could apply solar panels on the roof of the structure, but didn’t find the efficiencies we wanted,” Hilton says. “That eventually led us to the idea of putting our name in the hat of Rocky Mountain Power’s solar renewables project application process. We did it on a whim of hope, and lo and behold, we were awarded the single largest Rocky Mountain Power grant for solar projects. We received a $564,000 grant toward a project for which we just had a vision. Along with that grant was a deadline of 18 months to complete the project, so that sent our staff and I into figuring out how to get it done.”

The foundation went on to partner with the Utah DFCM and Salt Lake County to get the project underway, picking up other community partners along the way. Salt Lake County’s Office of Township Services committed $200,000 to the project. “Of the project’s $1.4 million cost, we’ve raised over half of that from grants and contributions from community partners,” Hilton says.

A total of 3,108 solar modules will be installed on parking canopies in the Utah Olympic Oval’s south parking lot. The 800-kilowatt system will generate more than 1 million kilowatt hours of energy on an annual basis.

“The solar array will provide us with approximately 20 percent of our power needs for this facility,” Hilton says. “Factoring in the Rocky Mountain Power incentive and contributions from our partners, we will save on average over $100,000 a year on our power bill and over $3.7 million over the life of the [20-year] project.”

Inland Scuba Diving Made Possible at Grantsville’s Bonneville Seabase

By Rachel Madison

Grantsville – One local couple has made it possible for scuba divers to get a real ocean experience without leaving the state. Linda Nelson and her husband, George Sanders, have been teaching people how to scuba dive since the mid-1970s. In 1979 the couple opened a dive shop, NEPTUNE DIVERS, in Salt Lake City to further their training abilities. Just a few years after opening their dive shop, Nelson and Sanders realized it wasn’t easy for students to practice diving in an inland state. The only lake nearby that was warm enough was in a remote area just south of Wendover called Blue Lake.

Seeking a more convenient option, the couple decided it would be nice to have their own place to dive that was closer to Salt Lake. Nelson says the goal was to find warm springs within 100 miles of Salt Lake to set up a year-round diving area. By looking at a geothermal map, they found what is now the Bonneville Seabase in Tooele County, near Grantsville.

“We found it on the map and finally figured out where it was by flying overhead,” Nelson says. “When we got here it was a garbage dump, an unofficial place to get rid of stuff. Eight dump trucks full of stuff cleaned it up.”

Nelson says the Bonneville Seabase has grown to be a lot more popular than they ever envisioned, because it was initially designed just for Neptune Divers’ scuba diving students. People don’t only visit the seabase to practice scuba diving—they also come for snorkeling, fish pedicures and fish feedings.

Nelson says the water stays fairly warm throughout the year. During the summer months, the temperature typically sits between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the winter months it can dip down into the 60s.

Dozens of varieties of ocean fish can be seen in the water at the Bonneville Seabase, including nurse sharks, angel fish, groupers, pork fish, monos and butterfly fish.

“The oldest fish we have is a nurse shark,” Nelson says. “He’s at least 20 years old. … We’ve rescued quite a few fish, gotten them from pet stores and gotten them from aquariums.”

The seabase has three diving bays. White Rocks Bay is the smallest and shallowest of the bays and is covered during winter months to provide a warm entry and exit point. Habitat Bay is the seabase’s largest area and includes platforms for training, a boat wreck and a long channel for compass training. The Abyss is the warmest and deepest bay, which can reach a depth of up to 62 feet depending on water levels. It also has platforms for safety stops and a platform at 60 feet.

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